Data Visualization & Tools
NREL's Geographic Information System (GIS) Team has developed tools that allow users to apply these data. These tools help determine things such as how much electricity can be produced from solar systems on a house or what renewable resources are available in a specific areas.
Please visit http://maps.nrel.gov/ for the most current list of available NREL's GIS tools.
If you have difficulty using these tools because of a disability, please contact the Webmaster.
The BioEnergy Atlas includes two interactive applications, BioPower and BioFuels. These applications allow users to view biomass resources, infrastructure, and other relevant information, as well as query the data and conduct initial screening analyses. While these tools are useful in refining the prospecting process of site identification, they should not replace the need for an on-site biomass resource evaluation.
The Geospatial Toolkit (GsT) is an NREL-developed map-based software application that provides the tools and data necessary to perform renewable energy resource assessments, targeted primarily to developing countries. The GsT enables exploration and simple analysis of renewable potential without expertise in GIS:
- You can view solar and wind data and overlay roads, transmission lines, land use and elevation. You can zoom in and out and move all around exploring the renewable energy opportunities for a country.
- You can run queries that will calculate the land area meeting your criteria, such as minimum resource values, proximity to infrastructure, and restricted land use and slope characteristics.
- You can click on a location and the underlying resource values will be used to develop a HOMER file which can be used to simulate systems that will meet the loads of pre-designed off-grid loads. These files can also be used in the full version of HOMER for more sophisticated users. The application is only available on Windows platforms.
HyDRA (Hydrogen Demand and Resource Analysis) is a Web-based geographic information system (GIS) tool that allows users to view, download, and analyze hydrogen data spatially and dynamically. HyDRA contains hydrogen demand, resource, infrastructure, cost, production, and distribution data.
In My Backyard Tool
The In My Backyard (IMBY) tool estimates the electricity you can produce with a solar photovoltaic (PV) array at your home or business. Homeowners, businesses, and researchers use IMBY to develop quick estimates of renewable energy production at locations throughout the continental United States, Hawaii, and northern Mexico. IMBY uses a map-based interface to allow you to choose the exact location of your PV array. Based on your location, system size, and other variables, IMBY estimates the electricity production you can expect from your system.
Use our MapSearch to easily search our collection of maps created by the GIS team. Please use the search box and the filters on the left and right of the screen to limit results.
Map of U.S. Solar Measurement Station Locations - Dynamic Map
This U.S. Solar Measurement Station Locations map shows the spatial distribution of measurement stations across the U.S. This site displays stations that are monitored by the following programs and agencies: DOE's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program, NREL's Cooperative Network for Renewable Resource Measurements (CONFRRM), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) that includes: Central UV Calibration Facility (CUCF), Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory (CMDL), Integrated Surface Irradiance Study (ISIS), SURFace RADiation Budget Measurement Network (SURFRAD), the University of Oregons' Solar Radiation Monitoring Laboratory, and the University of Texas' Texas Solar Radiation Database. Each of the measurement station locations has a hyperlink that will take the user to the web site of that particular station or associated agency or program.
Notes: First time users, please click on the icon for the help document for detailed instructions on how to navigate the site.
Marine and Hydrokinetic Atlas - Beta
The Marine and Hydrokinetic Atlas maps the wave energy resource and ocean thermal energy conversion. This atlas will host other ocean energy data sets in the future. Users can pan, zoom, and filter data of the ocean's energy potential. Data is available for all U.S. coastlines and includes Alaska and Hawaii.
The Open PV Project
The Open PV Project is a collaborative effort between government, industry, and the public that is compiling a comprehensive database of photovoltaic (PV) installation data for the United States. Data for the project are voluntarily contributed from a variety of sources including utilities, installers, and the general public. The data collected is actively maintained by the contributors and are always changing to provide an evolving, up-to-date snapshot of the US solar power market. The project also provides a variety of compelling visualization applications to allow users to derive knowledge from the information in the database.
NREL's PVWattsTM calculator estimates the energy production and cost savings of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) energy systems throughout the world. It allows homeowners, installers, manufacturers, and researchers to easily develop estimates of the performance of hypothetical PV installations. The PVWatts calculator works by creating hour-by-hour performance simulations that provide estimated monthly and annual energy production in kilowatts and energy value. Users can select a location and choose to use default values or their own system parameters for size, electric cost, array type, tilt angle, and azimuth angle. In addition, the PVWatts calculator can provide hourly performance data for selected TMY locations.
Developers, we have created an updated PVWatts Application Programming Interface (API). This web service estimates the performance of hypothetical residential and small commercial PV installations.
Renewable Energy Atlas
The Renewable Energy Atlas is an interactive application of the renewable energy resources in the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii. It illustrates the geographic distribution of wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass resources, as well as other pertinent information such as transportation network and administrative boundaries. The Atlas is for anyone interested in renewable energy in the country, including researchers, developers, and policy makers.
Solar Power Prospector Tool
This interactive Solar Power Prospector mapping tool allows users to examine, distribute, and analyze solar resource data for the United States and northern Mexico. It assists in making decisions about optimal locations for CSP plants. Users can explore temporal and spatial aspects of NREL's solar resource data and can download the resource data for use outside of the tool—for example, in the System Advisor Model.
Tidal Streams Resource Map
The Assessment of the Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the United States
This database provides researchers insight into the potential of the tidal ocean energy resource. Oak Ridge National Laboratory validated the model's accuracy and the resulting data can be viewed in this online resource mapping tool.
TransAtlas is an interactive map that uses a Google Maps interface to find alternative fueling stations, discover where alternative fuel vehicles are concentrated, and explore alternative fuel production facilities on an interactive map. Users can customize the map display and print and query the underlying data. TransAtlas is part of a suite of geographic analysis tools for renewable energy developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
United States Solar Atlas—Dynamic Map
The United States Solar Atlas is a map interface to access monthly average solar resource information for any given location in the United States. It also provides access to spreadsheets giving average monthly radiation for 14 different types of solar collectors. Data for individual collectors are also available for fixed, flat-plate (photovoltaic) collectors on five different orientations. Added features include a zoom tool, which allows the user to zoom to zip codes and latitude/longitude locations.
Users can also access free GIS software to view our GIS data. The ArcExplorer tool can be downloaded at no charge from their site.
Here are instructions for using it with NREL's GIS data:
Go to the ArcExplorer site and download and install the free ArcExplorer Software.
Launch ArcExplorer and go to Add Content, GIS Services and Create a New Connection with ArcGIS Server (Server type = ArcGIS Server).
In the Server box, type in http://gisatnrel.nrel.gov/ArcGIS/Services.
Expand the files to see what datasets are currently available and click on the data you want to add. Accept the defaults and the data set will be added.
Or, if you have downloaded some of the NREL GIS shapefiles, you can also bring them into ArcExplorer using the Add Content, Shapefiles option. You will not be able to classify the information, but you can select which field you would like visible by right-clicking on the content and setting the layer properties.
Use the online help tool available with the download for further information on how to use ArcExplorer.